Watami Sushi can be found in a large shopping complex off of Scripps Ranch Boulevard. Some of San Diego’s finest sushi is served up in this humble restaurant and loyal patrons rave about the value and large portions, since Watami serves up a bevy of delectable sushi rolls on elongated white platters. One of the highlights here is their extensive selection of creative rolls, with standouts such the Volcano Roll, stuffed with salmon, crab, avocado, cream cheese, topped with red Snapper and baked in their house-made spicy sauce. With freshly prepared ingredients and speedy service, Watami Sushi has become known amongst locals as the go-to spot for these Japanese favorites.
Diners at Nara Sushi sample not only handmade maki and sashimi, but also fried katsu, crispy tempura, and flavorful Korean noodle dishes. Like an artwork meticulously rendered with eel sauce, each maki roll is both aesthetically pleasing and delicious, with slivers of tender salmon and tuna, creamy avocado, and notes of crunchy tempura and cucumber. Feasts kick off with appetizers of grilled white tuna or battered seafood butteryaki, which nicely set the stage for main dishes of beef and egg bibimbop.
Shoen Sushi presents a diverse selection of Japanese sushi made with fresh ingredients such as yellowtail, tuna, quail egg, caviar, and surf clam. Like well-oiled knife-fighting machines, the restaurant's chefs are efficient and precise. Their all-sushi menu covers maki, sashimi, and nigiri, including everything from spicy scallop rolls to sashimi platters of clean, thinly sliced tuna.
Hive Sushi Lounge does indeed seem to be inspired by the artistry of bees. Though the sushi rolls aren't hexagonal, the chefs put as much thought into them as the insects would put into their royal honeycomb, crafting elegant plates of nigiri, sashimi, and more than 25 specialty rolls. Some of these dishes carry the hive theme even further—the nectar-style sashimi, for example, flavors salmon with orange-infused olive oil, and the queen bee roll wraps spicy yellowtail with yellow soy paper topped with red snapper.
Diners needn't leave all the construction work to the staff, however. Hive offers sushi-making classes six nights a week, teaching students how to make hand-rolls and nigiri at individual stations. If you'd rather sit and eat traditionally, sip a Japanese beer in the dining room, or head to the private Nectar Room. The event space provides parties with a sushi chef, a patio, and a PA system for announcing when someone doesn't know what tobiko is.
Subtly set into the street-level space of a Bankers Hill office building, Hane Sushi’s tall, smoked-glass windows shadow the spectacle within. Since opening in 2009, the elegant establishment is known for having the freshest fish and masterful sushi chefs. Many compare the sushi quality to that found in Japan, but Hane holds its own within San Diego. Whether studying the precise and delicate cuts from the safety of the understated bar, or enjoying a more relaxed experience with friends at one of the booths or tables, diners can select from the choicest cuts of sashimi, luxurious sushi rolls, a variety of miso soups and several appetizers. Sake tops the libations menu, along with Asian beer brands, and cocktails are served nightly from the full bar. Reservations are highly suggested for the small space. And while the neighborhood is pinched for parking during weekdays, it’s much easier to find after 6pm.
While Sushi is a popular dinner option throughout San Diego, it’s rare to find a discreet and sophisticated neighborhood eatery that appeals to all the senses. The demure Azuki is such a treat; a place where expert chefs work seasonal ingredients into daily specials, and guests are invited to slip in after dark to fully appreciate the attention to every luminous detail. Behind the sushi bar is a wall of red, sure to fire appetites; just opposite, Japanese films project across a pale ivory wall above a scattering of small, comfortable tables. Step towards the kitchen, up a narrow hall past the restrooms to the back patio, which is bordered with horizontal, dark wooden beams, enough tall heaters to warm the draftiest night and a tall, luminous ceiling which helps tone conversations to a graceful murmur. Such a sumptuous environment is sure to enhance any romantic dinner.